Exit strategy.

Most business owners have an idea that their business will eventually end with a brilliant finish – a sale, acquisition or IPO.

It’s like thinking Prince Charming is going to come on a big white horse, sweep you off your feet and you’ll live happily ever after.

Pretty picture, not likely to happen (and haven’t we evolved beyond that?).

So let’s think about it in more realistic, 21st century norms.

Pre-Nup.

The best time to start talking about an exit strategy is when you’re setting up your business.

Before stuff happens.

Before you get busy.

Before you get crazy (well, okay, starting a business is crazy-making from the get-go). Crazier?

You don’t need to know exactly what the exit is going to be.

Just know it’s going to happen.

And in your business plan and/or partnership agreement, it should be laid out.

At the very least, who gets what, but the more detail you can lay out, the better.

Like setting goals (and yes, this is one), the more you can lay out, the better the chance that it will happen.

What are the benchmarks, metrics, etc. that would trigger an exit?

Money, time frame, life event, retirement?

What kind of exit do you envision?

Do you want to stick around? For how long?

Who is going to execute the exit? Will you be using a broker?

Remember that an exit takes time –

Generally a minimum of six months and in the case of asset purchase agreements, potentially up to 3 years – so schedule that into your plan.

Exits are also a full-time job. Another project to juggle (and often in total silence from staff).

It’s not going to be easy but an exit strategy will make it easier.

If you’ve got any questions about an exit strategy for your business, or just want to talk about how I created and executed my exit, I’m happy to share my experiences with you.

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